The question of why friends and family interfere so much in our marriages, in the Indian context, has been vexing me for some time.
And I believe, I've finally cracked it!
The answer is simple. It is because we invite them into our marriages. Let me explain.
Take a random Indian wedding invitation. Yes I am talking about both the printed variety as well as the ones that are nowadays ubiquitous on social media (mainly Facebook & Twitter). Up front and centre the invitation reads:
“Smt. and Shri (or the more modern Mrs. and Mr) So and So, Cordially invite you with family and friends…… “
- Ahaa! The first mistake! You might as well invite the whole town. We are all one big family and where the bloodline breaks, we have so many friends! Of the social media (Facebook) variety!
But the problem does not stop there! The next words are in my opinion the root cause of the whole problem. Continuing with our example:
“Smt. and Shri (or the more modern Mrs. and Mr) So and So, Cordially invite you with family and friends to the marriage of their daughter (or son) XYZ with ABC etc etc…… “ .
Note that I have highlighted the word ‘marriage’. Now that means the whole period from the time the young couple tie the knot till ‘Death doth do them apart’! That’s what is commonly meant by the term marriage. e.g., “my marriage is successful”, “She is in her third marriage”, or that famous line from Princess Diana, “I often felt there were three of us in this marriage”. So if you invite someone (and worse still with their family and friends) to the “marriage”, you have invited them for a long, long time.
Now I don’t believe in just diagnosing the problem and not giving a remedy. The first simple remedy is to put the names of the persons you are inviting on the top of the invite and cut out the ‘with family and friends’ part.
But this is not so effective until you follow the second corrective step. Replace the word ‘marriage’ with ‘wedding’ or ‘wedding ceremony’. This way you are sure that you are inviting certain specified individuals (& not their whole brood consisting of extended family & friends) to a certain specified ceremony/function called– yes you guessed it – the ‘wedding’. This is the brief 2-3 hours that it takes for the bride and the groom to exchange vows, accept the gifts from invitees and for all to enjoy the good food, music and dance and then depart.
So if you want peace and quiet from interfering friends and relatives in any marriage, amend your invitation to read:
“Smt. and Shri (or the more modern Mrs. and Mr) So and So, cordially invite you to the wedding ceremony of their daughter (or son) XYZ with ABC etc etc…… “.